Fred Kent is a leading authority on revitalizing city spaces and one of the foremost thinkers in livability, smart growth and the future of the city. As founder and president of Project for Public Spaces, he is known throughout the world as a dynamic speaker and prolific ideas man. Traveling over 150,000 miles each year, Fred offers technical assistance to communities and gives major talks across North America and internationally. Each year, he and the PPS staff give presentations or train more than 10,000 people in Placemaking techniques.Over the past 37 years, Fred has worked on hundreds of projects, including Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, and Times Square in New York City; Discovery Green in Houston, TX; Campus Martius in Detroit, MI; Main Street in Littleton, NH; Granville Island in Vancouver, BC, Canada; and a City-Wide Placemaking Campaign in Chicago, IL. In addition to projects, Fred has led trainings across the world for audiences such as the Urban Redevelopment Agency and the National Parks Board in Singapore, representatives from the City of Hong Kong, the Ministry of Environment in Norway, the leading Dutch transportation organization in the Netherlands, Greenspace in Scotland, UK, numerous transportation professionals from US State DOTs, and thousands of community and neighborhood groups across the US.Before founding PPS, Fred studied with Margaret Mead and worked with William H. Whyte on the Street Life Project, assisting in observations and film analysis of corporate plazas, urban streets, parks and other open spaces in New York City. The research resulted in the now classic, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, published in 1980, which laid out conclusions based on decades of meticulous observation and documentation of human behavior in the urban environment. In 1968, Fred founded the Academy for Black and Latin Education (ABLE), a street academy for high school dropouts. In 1970, and again in 1990, Fred was the coordinator and chairman of New York City’s Earth Day.

Most recently, Fred has lead some of the largest projects encompassing downtowns (Detroit), waterfronts (V & A Waterfront in Cape Town), and squares (Harvard University), and is developing a collaborative agenda with EDRA (Environmental Design and Research Association) where PPS recently received their first Organizational award. A recent partnership between PPS, UN Habitat and The Ax:son Johnson Foundation has resulted in a global campaign (The Future of Places) and the establishment of a Placemaking Leadership Council (500+ members) aimed at bringing Placemaking to countries around the world. Fred has also been intimately involved with the expansion of Placemaking into a global agenda, helping to achieve a level of international engagement that rivals other major international development efforts. With close to 75,000 people around the world following the work of PPS through emails, Twitter and Facebook, he has witnessed interest in Placemaking grow exponentially.

Fred has taken over half a million photographs of public spaces and their users, which have appeared in exhibits, publications and articles.


Columbia University, Bachelor of Arts in Economics
Columbia University, Graduate Program in Urban Geography

Selected Professional Presentations and Lectures

World Design Conference 2010, Panelist, Seoul, Korea, December 2010
Aspirations and Inspirations: Imagining the Buffalo Waterfront, Buffalo, NY, November 2010

Interdisciplinary Design Institute: Design Research Conference, Spokane, WA, October 2010

North Louisiana Travel Conference, Speaker, Shreveport-Bossier, LA, August 2010

Pedestrian Symposium, Speaker, LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, May 2010

Ochsner Hare & Hare 100th anniversary conference, Keynote address, Kansas City, KS, May 2010

Greater East End Forum Lunch,Keynote address, Houston, TX, January 2010

48th ICCA Congress & Exhibition, Keynote address, International Congress and Convention Association, Florence, Italy, November 2009

19th Annual Toronto Planning Gala Dinner, Keynote address, Toronto Planning Alumni, Toronto, Canada, November 2009

Michigan Municipal League Annual Convention, Keynote address, Michigan Municipal League, Kalamazoo, MI, September 2009

“Transforming the Metropolis” Delange Conference, Rice University, Houston, TX, March 2009

Destination Italy: Scenarios, Trends and Strategies to Enhance Italian Tourism, Keynote address, Fondazione Rosselli, Confturismo, Turin, Italy, January 2009

“Future Cities” Keynote address, City of Bergen, Bergen, Norway, November 2008

“National Congress on Public Space” CROW, the Netherlands, November 2008

Gold Coast City Council, Gold Coast, Australia, September 2008

Subtropical Cities Conference, Brisbane, Australia, September 2008

Place Leaders Association Workshop, Melbourne, Australia, September 2008

“Power of Ten” Committee for Perth, Perth, Australia, August 2008

“Placemaking and Tourism” Destination Marketing Association Internations (DMAI) Annual Conference, Las Vegas, NV, July 2008

“World Cities Summit” National Parks Board, Singapore, June 2008

Uncommon Ground lecture series, NY Parks and Recreation Department, New York, NY, June 2008

“The Quality of Density” Third Congress for Israeli Urbanism, Movement for Israeli Urbanism, Tel-Aviv, Israel, May 2008

“What If We Built Cities Around Place” Keynote address at Mary Donaldson lecture, Saskatchewan Library Association, Regina, SK, Canada, May 2008

The Benwwood Foundation, lecture series, Chattanooga, TN, April 2008

BC Library Association, Richmond, BC, Canada April 2008

“To Be or Not to Be a Great Waterfront” Windy River Institute, Bullhead City, AZ, February 2008

“Sarasota International Design Summit 2007” Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, FL, November 2007

“The Trail Ahead” Waterfront Conference and Trail Ride, Waterfront Regeneration Trust, Toronto, ON, September 2007

“Aspen Ideas Festival” Aspen, CO, July 2007

Mayor’s Roundtable, Oklahoma City, OK, May 2007

“Annual Conference” North Carolina American Society of Landscape Architects, Keynote address, Charlotte, NC, May 2007

Bergen Chamber of Commerce; Nordic Urban Design Conference (NUDA), Keynote address, Bergen, Norway, April 2007

“Catch the Neighborhood Spirit” Regional Neighborhood Network Conference, Keynote address, Bowling Green, KY, October 2006

“Public Spaces, Public Life” Copenhagen, Denmark, September 2006

“The Evolving Planner” 2006 Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association Annual Conference, Keynote address, Meredith, NH, September 2006

“Creating Valuable Cities,” keynote presentation, and closing panel session, Hong Kong, China, May 2006

“The Living City” Conference, Amersfoort, The Netherlands, May 2006